China’s propaganda department, tasked with controlling the media and arts, has been given a slap on the wrist for not being good enough at shaping public opinion, according to a report on a government website.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) posted an article on its website Wednesday that described findings from its two-month-long probe of the ruling Communist party’s propaganda department, which began in February.

Xi Jinping CCTV visit
Xi Jinping at the studio of CCTV Evening Newscast.

Leaders in the department did not feel a sufficient sense of responsibility for undertaking ideological work, the piece cited CCDI member and investigation spokesman Wang Huaichen as saying.

Art was not directed clearly enough towards socialist aims and political thought not emphasised enough in universities, he was quoted as saying.

News propaganda was not targeted or effective enough, especially in the field of new media, where the department had failed to fully implement the principle of “the party controlling the media”, the post cited him as saying.

China censorship security
China censors its internet. Photo: Creative Commons.

Wang called upon the department to make propaganda appear more valid by enhancing its attractiveness and appeal, it said.

The Communist party tolerates no opposition to its rule and newspapers, websites, and broadcast media are strictly controlled. An army of censors patrols social media and many Western news websites are blocked.

President Xi Jinping reminded top state media outlets to “strictly adhere to the orders of the Chinese Communist Party” during a series of high-profile visits to their headquarters in February.

Xi has also in recent years called for higher education to play a larger role in “ideological guidance” and urged more teaching of Marxism in universities, where curricula remain tightly controlled and liberal scholars report increasing fears of censorship.

Since he came to power in 2012, Xi has overseen a crackdown on dissent, with hundreds of lawyers, activists and academics detained and dozens jailed.

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